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Case Law of the European Court of Justice

16 Apr 2012


The Directive 2003/88 introduces an obligation for Member States to take the measures necessary to ensure that every worker is entitled to paid annual leave of at least four weeks in accordance with national legislation.

Following the accident that Ms Dominguez was involved on the journey between her home and her place and was absent from work, she brought a claim before the French courts for 22.5 days’ paid leave in respect of that period which her employer refused to grant her and, in the alternative, compensation. The claimant alleged that this was a work-related accident and should have been covered by the same arrangements as a work-related accident.

French Court of Cassation asked ECJ whether the French rules, which make entitlement to paid annual leave conditional on an employee having worked a minimum of 10 days for the same employer during the reference period, are compatible with the Directive.


Firstly, ECJ ruled that Directive 2003/88 does not make any distinction between workers who are absent from work on sick leave during the reference period and those who have in fact worked in the course of that period. Following this statement the Court held that, with regard to workers on sick leave which has been duly granted, the right to paid annual leave conferred by that directive on all workers cannot be made subject by a Member State to a condition that the worker has actually worked during the reference period laid down by that State.

Secondly, the Court pointed out that when national courts apply domestic law they are bound to interpret it, so far as possible, in the light of the wording and the purpose of the directive concerned in order to achieve the result sought by the directive and consequently comply with the third paragraph of Article 288 TFEU. It is for the national court to determine, taking the whole body of domestic law into consideration and applying the interpretative methods recognised by domestic law, whether it can find an interpretation of that law that allows the absence of the worker due to an accident on the journey to or from work to be treated as being equivalent to one of the situations covered by that article of the Code du travail.  If such an interpretation is not possible, it is for the national court to determine whether, in the light of the legal nature of the respondents in the main proceedings, the direct effect of the Directive may be relied upon against them. If the national court is unable to achieve the objective laid down in Art. 7, the party injured as a result of domestic law not being in conformity with European Union law can none the less rely on the Francovich and Others judgment (C‑6/90 and C‑9/90) in order to obtain, if appropriate, compensation for the loss sustained.

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